How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring: DIY Guide

Homeowner installing vinyl plank flooring DIY style

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Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast looking to elevate your home’s interior or simply seeking a budget-friendly flooring upgrade, installing vinyl plank flooring is well within your reach. This comprehensive guide will delve into the step-by-step journey of mastering vinyl plank flooring DIY installation, ensuring a professional outcome and a gratifying experience.

Table of Contents

    Choosing the Best Vinyl Plank for Your DIY Install

    Before asking how to install vinyl plank flooring, you should ask what product is the best for your needs. Ensuring you choose a vinyl plank flooring option within your wheelhouse is essential. While each type of vinyl plank flooring has merits, one option stands out as the ultimate choice for DIY installation.

    Peel and Stick Vinyl Planks: This easy-to-install option features adhesive backing, making it a quick solution for DIYers. However, its adhesive nature limits its durability and stability compared to other options.

    Glue-Down Vinyl Planks: Known for its robustness and suitability for high-traffic areas, this type requires adhering planks to the subfloor with adhesive. It’s a solid choice for a long-lasting flooring option but not the best for a homeowner installing flooring for the first time.

    Loose Lay Vinyl Planks: Loose lay planks rely on their weight and friction-grip backing to remain in place, eliminating the need for adhesive. While they offer benefits like moisture resistance and quick replacement, they lack the secure interlocking mechanism in other options.

    Click-and-Lock Vinyl Planks with Built-in Underlayment: This remarkable choice combines the convenience of click-and-lock installation with the comfort and utility of a built-in underlayment. The planks seamlessly interlock, offering our favorite stable and secure flooring solution.

    Why is click-and-lock the best option?

    Effortless Installation: Click-and-lock vinyl planks are engineered for straightforward installation. The interlocking mechanism ensures each plank snugly fits into the next, creating a secure bond without the need for adhesives.

    Built-in Underlayment: The true game-changer is the incorporation of a built-in underlayment. This layer offers numerous advantages, including sound absorption, cushioning, and protection against moisture, all of which contribute to the longevity of your flooring.

    Versatility: Click-and-lock vinyl planks with built-in underlayment can be installed over various subfloors, saving you the hassle of extensive subfloor preparation. This makes them suitable for different areas of your home, from the living room to the kitchen.

    Durability: The interlocking mechanism not only enhances stability but also increases the overall durability of the flooring. Click and lock planks are designed to withstand the rigors of daily life, ensuring a long-lasting investment.

    What is the best vinyl plank flooring brand for DIY Installation?

    We’ve already covered the best vinyl plank flooring brands in a plethora of categories. Our favorites, Doma and Proximity Mills, are great options for DIY installation, but the best has to be Liberty Home. Their vinyl plank flooring options ship quickly and even feature DIY installation guides. Click here to find a Liberty Home retailer near you.

    Homeowners preparing their space for diy vinyl plank flooring installatoin

    Preparing Your Space

    Before embarking on your vinyl plank flooring installation endeavor, it’s essential to prepare your space and the materials you’ll need properly. Here’s how to get started:

    1. Asses and Prepare the Subfloor: 

    The quality of your subfloor significantly impacts the longevity and stability of your vinyl plank flooring. Ensure it is clean, level, dry, and free from any irregularities. Remove existing flooring, nails, and debris, and address any underlying issues before proceeding.

    2. Gather Your Materials and Tools: 

    These include your vinyl plank flooring product (of course), underlayment (if not pre-attached), adhesive (if required), transition strips, shoe molding, measuring tape, utility knife or vinyl cutter, straight edge, speed square, rubber mallet, tapping block, pry bar, chalk line, safety goggles, and ear protection.

    3. Acclimate the Vinyl Planks: 

    Allow your vinyl plank flooring to acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity for at least 48 hours. This critical step prevents expansion or contraction of the planks after installation.

    4. Think About Your Layout: 

    Begin by measuring the room’s dimensions again and planning your vinyl plank layout. Starting from the longest wall is often recommended. Mark a straight reference line parallel to the starting wall using a chalk line to maintain symmetry.

    5. Address Door Jambs: 

    Focus on the finer details to achieve a seamless look. Trim the bottom of door jambs using a handsaw or jamb saw, allowing the vinyl planks to fit beneath them snugly.

    Homeowner cutting vinyl plank flooring perfectly

    Diving into Vinyl Plank Flooring Installation

    1. Begin the Installation: 

    Jump into the installation by placing the first plank along the reference line in a corner, ensuring a 1/4-inch gap from the wall for expansion. Use position spacers to sustain this gap throughout the process.

    2. Intentional Interlocking: 

    With the first plank in place, insert the tongue of the second plank into the groove of the first at a slight angle. Lower the plank to engage the locking mechanism, guaranteeing a secure fit. Utilize a rubber mallet and tapping block to ensure a firm connection. Repeat this technique for subsequent planks, establishing a strong interlock.

    3. Ensuring a Cohesive Visual: 

    Achieving a harmonious aesthetic involves staggering the end joints of the planks. Aim to maintain a gap of at least 6 inches between end joints in adjacent rows, replicating the look of authentic hardwood flooring.

    4. Masterful Cutting: 

    As you approach the end of a row, measure the remaining space for the last plank. Use a utility knife or vinyl cutter to cut the plank for a seamless fit. Remember to retain the 1/4-inch gap from the wall.

    5. Navigate the Next Rows: 

    Moving onto the second row and beyond, commence with a plank at least 6 inches long to stagger the joints effectively. Connect the short-end tongue to the groove of the short-end plank from the first row, subsequently lowering the plank into place. Continue interlocking and tapping the planks methodically.

    6. Utilize Transition Strips: 

    If your space transitions into other areas, transition strips are essential. These strips bridge the gap between different flooring types, providing a polished appearance.

    7. Pulling it All Together: 

    Remove the spacers along the walls as the final planks are installed. Install shoe molding to conceal the expansion gap, attaching it to the baseboards rather than the floor using finishing nails.

    Homeowners cleaning their new vinyl plank flooring

    Maintaining Your New Luxury Vinyl Flooring

    You’ve done it! Your vinyl plank flooring installation was completed to perfection, and now it’s time to ensure it stays perfect. By adopting a few simple maintenance practices, you can ensure that your vinyl plank flooring retains its luster and remains a delightful feature of your home for years.

    1. Create Your Routine:

    Maintaining the beauty of your vinyl plank flooring begins with regular cleaning. Create a cleaning routine that includes sweeping or vacuuming the floor consistently. This practice prevents dirt, dust, and grit from accumulating and potentially causing scratches over time. A soft-bristle broom or a vacuum with a soft brush attachment can effectively remove surface debris without damaging the flooring.

    2. Mop With the Right Products:

    While vinyl plank flooring is highly water-resistant, avoiding excessive water exposure is important. When it comes to mopping, use a damp, well-wrung mop rather than soaking the floor. Excess water can seep into the seams and edges of the planks, leading to warping or lifting. Opt for a vinyl floor cleaner that is compatible with your flooring type. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning products to avoid damaging the finish.

    3. Tackling Tough Stains:

    Accidents happen; sometimes, stubborn stains might find their way onto your vinyl plank flooring. If faced with a tough stain, such as ink or red wine, it’s best to address it promptly. Gently blot the stain with a clean, damp cloth, and avoid abrasive scrubbing that could damage the surface. Mild dish soap mixed with water can be used for stubborn stains, but remember to rinse thoroughly to prevent any residue buildup.

    4. Protective Measures:

    To protect vinyl plank flooring, use mats in high-traffic zones to trap dirt, preventing scratches. Opt for non-staining mat backings. Attach felt or rubber pads under furniture legs to prevent scuffs when moved. Avoid high heels and abrasive-soled shoes to prevent marks. Place trays under plants to avoid water damage.

    Final Thoughts on Vinyl Plank Flooring Installation

    While this is a very DIY-friendly flooring material, you may find yourself at the end of our guide feeling a bit overwhelmed by the process; but don’t worry! So many talented professionals across the country and the globe can complete your installation perfectly. If you aren’t sure of your skill, this could become a more affordable option in the long run, preventing reinstallation or repair. We encourage you to use this great tool to find talented professionals near you.